Thursday, 31 July 2008

Anonymous mission

I've blogged about anonymous mission over on the Sola Panel. The first leaders of mission to non-Jews were not apostles or recognized church leaders, but anonymous Christians from Cyprus and Cyrene.

Basically the point is that if you want to tell someone about the Lord Jesus, you're allowed to do it without due authorization from the relevant authorities. They'll catch up with you eventually and may even offer some encouragement, as they should.

Holding up your tracksuit pants with a piece of string

It's a brilliant solution! I don't know why I didn't think of it years ago. The elastic or whatever has gone in at least two pairs of my tracksuit pants, but it has always seemed a shame to throw them out. So I haven't, which means they keep slipping down whenever I wear them.

Anyway, if you are faced with this problem, what you do is grab enough of the waistband in your hand to make it tight around your middle.

Then you get your average bit of kitchen twine, maybe about 30 cm, less if you're thrifty and efficient, and tie it in a loop around the base of the bunch that you have in your hand. Just a normal knot that you use for tying your shoelaces, nothing fancy, and your tracky dackies will stay up for the entire evening and still be in place when you wake up in the morning.

Sinkin' Starbucks

Nick Wailes of the Faculty of Economics and Business at Sydney Uni thinks about why.


"Gleeson may well be a warm and humane person, it's just that he didn't want the rest of the world to see it."

Must remember that one.

From here.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

A balloon on the floor

A balloon on the floor, when blown by a gentle breeze, sounds like the carcass of a snake being dragged across wood.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Bus stop conversation

I wrote about it on the Sola Panel.

Some of us are having a friendly (off-line) discussion about whether there are too many links, too few links, or the number are juust right. It was sparked by the bus stop post, so, I would be interested in your comments (here, not there, if you don't mind, as it's a bit off-topic).

Answer to Pook's question

The pook was confused by this post.

Check this.

From the article:

In her later years, she lived mostly off the income from her apartment, which she sold cheaply more than 30 years ago to a lawyer, Andre-Francois Raffray.

He had agreed to make monthly payments on the apartment in exchange for taking possession when she died, but never got to do so. He died more than a year ago at 77; his family was required to keep making the payments.

So there's one example.

I would even be a bit wary about life insurance on someone who wasn't your spouse.

Sandra and Brad

IT's true!

Watch it if you get a chance.


The man just needs a team. Talk about the Silence of the Lottos.

Speculation that Evans may look elsewhere follows this year's Tour in which he was left without any Silence-Lotto teammates in the mountains, isolated with his rivals.

From here.

Christians in Iraq

They need our prayers.

This report from the Barnabas Fund provides some background.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Tips for faster reading

Charles Spurgeon offers a good one:

If I have a joint of meat on my table of which the smell and the taste at once convince me that it is putrid and unwholesome, should I show discretion by eating the whole of it before giving my judgment that it is not fit for food? One mouthful is quite enough, and one sentence of some books ought to suffice for a sensible man to reject the whole mass. Let those who can relish such meat feed on it, but I have a taste for better food.

From the dudes at team pyro.

Public transport booming

As this report says. Here in NSW we're already at the levels that had been projected for 2016.

A bit of investment in the infrastructure is long overdue.

Corruption in NSW

Corruption in NSW first became institutionalized under Premier Bob Askin, as Abe Saffron's son confirms in his new book about his dad.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Death and money

It's not wise to make deliberate financial arrangements whereby the benefit that accrues to you only occurs in the event of the early death of the other party or parties. No-one really benefits from this.

Friday, 25 July 2008


So I went in to Moore books and bought a basic Hebrew book, the one they are now using for beginners at college.

I was sick and stayed sick for a couple of years when I went to college, and one of the casualties was Hebrew. That's not good, and I have often felt the lack of it, so now I'm trying to fix the problem. If you are trying to explain the Bible to other people, you really should be trying to do it out of the original languages.

I also got hold of about half a dozen books on marriage, and Fifi and I met with Keith and Sarah Condie to talk about a weekend we've got coming up to talk about how to improve your marriage. Keith and Sarah and their kids have a lovely relationship and they were a great help to us this morning. I hope and pray we can help others in a similar way.

One of the things that occurred to me is that God designed marriage to work, and he did such a good job that sin has not been able to vitiate it.

A run this morning

Slow and sluggish. But I'm making progress. So much so that although I'm 47 years old, I consider that I have the mind and body of a 45 1/2 year old. And I've been coughing up stuff that hasn't seen the light of day for at least three years, so that has to be a good sign.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Me interviewed

There's an interview with me over on the Sola Panel blog. Serious comments also welcome.


Teenager helping a gran.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008


The situation in Iraq does seem to be going quite well. Here's one report about Basra; Here's another one from journalist Michael Yon, who's spent a lot of time over there and now believes that the war's been won by the incumbent government.

Clearing the decks

Got through an unbelievable amount of admin in the last day or two; sorted through upcoming dates, deleted or filed about 900 e-mails, got the car registered, organized some book reviews and articles, lined up a meeting to think about a marriage weekend Fi and I will lead in October.

This never happens. I can't help but feel something is about to go horribly wrong. That tells you something about my psychological makeup.

Still what a good reminder from God not to allow external circumstances to determine our happiness and contentment, which is really to be found in Christ alone. We can't help but respond to our circumstances, of course, and to be sad when things go wrong; or indeed to be happy when things go well. But such things can't be what we allow to define ourselves. Paul writes from prison:

11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

-Phil 4:11-13

His satisfaction is in Christ alone.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

World Youth Day

So, apart from any theological questions, the whole of the Eastern Suburbs along Anzac Parade was a dead zone last Thursday.

There were people with the uniforms on (backpack, red and yellow) bringing life, colour, and movement to the place. But when the Daily Tele online didn't even want a comment, you know that nothing much happened around here. School holidays maybe.

Time management part the 16th

OK I'm starting to look more closely at your stuff now, TMP (Time Management Person, but TMP seems more efficient).

Productive people make sure they get more than one “Happy Hour” in their
week. Plan your day the night before and make all your waking hours
productive and happy hours.

I'm not productive. I'm not happy. Why are you speaking to me like this? You're making things worse. A lot worse.

More time management tips

I'm actually finding time to go through this stuff now. So here we go:

Our lives are made up of Seven Vital Areas. They
include health, family, financial, intellectual, social, professional,
and spiritual areas. Like a seven-legged table, if one leg is too long,
it causes the entire table to wobble
. As we advance in our careers, it
is easy to get out of balance, then divorce, health problems, and an
empty lack of internal satisfaction rob us of the achievements we have

Italics mine.

A seven-legged table?

What gives here. Why did I subscribe to your time management thingy in the first place. I am starting to think you are crazy. And I am taking your advice. Who are you anyway?

So, how come I'm not busy!

I seem to have met all my deadlines. I seem to be sitting around trying to figure out what to do next. One thing I am doing is going through old e-mails, including the ones on time management.

Here's one:

We all have too much to do. Almost everyone I speak with tells me they
have more to do than time permits. This says a lot of good things about

That you have too much to do means many have entrusted a lot to you.
People who seldom have enough to keep them busy and are always looking
for things to do may not have earned this level of confidence from

Riiight. Well, I'm not busy right now. Phone's not ringing. Choir has cut out all the male singers and only wants females. I'm sittin here twiddling my thumbs.

Pretty soon I'm going to have to phone a few friends and see what goes on out there.

No deadlines

Quite a bizarre experience. I have no deadlines unmet and the phone is not ringing. The house, while not what my mother would have called clean, is within the range of tolerable. Surely some crisis is about to befall, or I am about to plunge into a pit of depression deeper than any I have known.

Or maybe I should just thank God for his many kindnesses, pay some bills and get on with life. Might call up Sam and see if he wants to see Dark Knight with me.

Actually I wouldn't mind learning Hebrew. I got sick for a few years when I was studying theology, and I've always felt that lack of knowledge of Hebrew has been a hindrance to my understanding of the Old Testament, and therefore to my preaching.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Self-help for depressives

Jean talks about talking to yourself.

Church music

I've posted on the Sola Panel about the subject, here.

I like music in just about any genre, and although I have definite tastes I wouldn't even go so far as to say that the stuff I like is particularly good. I mean, I liked Billy Joel for years and Billy Don't be a Hero still brings a tear to they eye and a lump to the throat, and that's not just the gag reflex. What I don't understand is knee-jerk hatred of hymns, which if you play them at a decent clip can really be a great sing.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

On reading some stream of consciousness stuff part the first

Er...mate, I don't want to be unkind, but keep your day job.

"As a freddled gruntbuggly, thy micturissions are to me."

And so on and so forth.

It wasn't quite that my small intestine lurched up and grabbed my oesophagus by the throat in an attempt at strangulation that would mercifully have prevented further reading, but if you'd kept on for more than a paragraph, who knows what might have happened.

"He was such a quiet man, always polite, I have no idea why he would have suddenly grabbed a plastic fork from the back of the kitchen drawer and attempt to kill all three family dogs with it. I'm glad the cries of his wife meant we could stop him in time, although to be honest dog number three does keep us awake at night when there are possums in the roof."

Sorry mate, you've set me off. Look to be honest you haven't got what it takes, that's my feedback. Can I suggest a career in conveyancing?


Beautiful ... Sydney midwinter day.

Quite cold. Single digit celsius figures in some parts of our house right now.

We had a lovely time in Austinmer, thanks for asking. We continue to mourn the loss of Fifi's mum. It was an important time, staying in her house for a while. I finished the final draft of a book I'm working on, so that's good. We had time in the park out the back of the house, on the beach, seeing other family, driving in to Wollongong. I'm training for a 12 k run, made good progress. Al and I used to run that distance in less than 45, admittedly on the flat in Centennial Park. Fifi took photos of the house and the rooms. It won't look this way again; it was the way it was when her mum lived there, and that must change, whether we want this or not.

It occurs to me that even if a place were to be preserved as it was when a person departed it, it wouldn't be the same. It would speak of the person's absence, and over time it would become different for its very strangeness and distance, no longer a place of comfort, friendship and life.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Luther's soldier

Here's one of my favourite Luther quotes. Tony just asked me to find it, so here it is for the rest of y'all to enjoy:

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the Word of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Him. Where the battle rages there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle front besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.

-Luther's Works Weimar Edition. Briefwechsel [Correspondence], vol. 3, pp. 81f

There you go Tony.

Monday, 14 July 2008

No internet connection

For a few days

Back to blogging soon!

Saturday, 5 July 2008

Euthanasia legislation in Victoria

David Palmer comments.

Includes some useful statistics about euthanasia.

From his piece:

Overall, in Holland in 2005, there were about 12,660, or 9 per cent, of all deaths caused intentionally. A 2005 study showed that at least 50 per cent of patients killed under the Dutch euthanasia program were suffering from depression. A 1991 study showed that an average of three people a day underwent euthanasia without their knowledge or consent. Studies in 1991 and 1995 showed that, despite Dutch law requiring physicians to report physician-assisted death, the majority of deaths went unreported.

While Ms Hartland’s Bill limits euthanasia to adults 18 years and older, in Holland children up to the age of 12, including newborns, may now be killed by lethal injection with parental consent. Liberalisation of the law due to presenting cases is inevitable over time. This is precisely the Dutch experience.

Worth checking the whole article.

Challies on commentaries

Here's Tim Challies' list of recommended New Testament commentaries. Really pleased to see that both of Peter O'Brien's commentaries are on there, they are tours de force by all accounts, and my reading of them has helped me a lot. Also Moo on Romans. Not sure about Gordon Fee. Every time I've read Fee I've been disappointed by the concessions he makes to using culture to interpret the passage, so I wouldn't second those choices. But the rest of the list looks solid.

His advice along with it is good, too, and he has some useful links.

Friday, 4 July 2008


A dance. 4 minutes 29 seconds of YouTube viewing.


Beautiful...Sydney winter day.

Well, I like the rain! I've said it before, I'll say it again.

We're about to go off to Austinmer for ten days, our first trip to Fiona's mum's house since Deirdre passed away on May 21. It will be a sad time, but it will be important too, and a time of thankfulness for her life.

Anyway, don't look for us at our house, which is being minded by the friend of a friend. And e-mail responses will be a fraction slower, although I am still working, working...just in a different location.

Thursday, 3 July 2008


Apart from the birth of our delightful daughter Ruby, what a hard year that was. I lost a job, was unemployed for 8 months, we moved out of home and Fi suffered severe ill-health. When Ruby was born, Fifi was of course in hospital. At the time, we didn't know where we were going to live when she came out. We ended up moving to Newtown. Towards the end of our time on the move, 9/11 happened.

How much worse it would have been without the generosity of friends and the grace of God. His goodness sustains us always.

The inerrant Briefing?

My article on Preaching Hell to Depressed Teens appears in the latest Briefing double issue on "The Strategy of God". No, it's not the post that nearly won an award from Ben Myers, but it comes close.

Although "Preaching Hell to Depressed Teens" was originally written in response to a blog post, I was eventually reminded that the article it's responding to also appeared in Briefing #267 from February 2001. I think I was in the middle of leaving a job, moving house and having a baby back then, so I wasn't reading my Briefings particularly carefully. Anyway, if you want to read part of the article I'm disagreeing with, I've posted it here.

Either my article is right, or the one it's responding to is, or possibly both are wrong. But whatever the case, it's a good reminder that the Briefing, unlike the Bible, is neither inerrant nor infallible.

Those Swedes are crazy

As the BBC reports:

An eight-year-old boy has sparked an unlikely outcry in Sweden after failing to invite two of his classmates to his birthday party.

From Challies.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Pyromaniacs again

Here's a defining piece from them, and wonderful stuff too.

What wondrous love is this?

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
To bear the dreadful curse for my soul.

Words and tune here.

Good version of it on YouTube.

When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down, sinking down,
When I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside His crown for my soul.

Coco Pops

"Just like a chocolate milkshake, only crunchy!"

Yer, well, that's why you're not getting them for breakfast, girls.